Since my return from the 5 Day Academy for Spiritual Formation, I have been diligently working on Advent planning, as it seems to be just around the corner. I took a moment off to do a couple of other things, but Advent planning seems to be the order for the week.
I tend to not be able to work on these things at the office. Things like sermon planning or worship planning, I need to be in a certain environment with fewer interruptions. You may be curious about what environment is necessary for such planning and inspiration to take place. Well, it is in bed, with my laptop on my...well, lap...and a pot of coffee near and a cup of coffee nearer. That is perfect....now I can spread all my books out all over the bed (king size) and contemplate the flow of of the season and then the flow of each Sunday. My family knows this is focus time and so makes certain that this time is as uninterrupted as possible.
Does that mean that nothing happens when I am in such a mode of planning? Not at all, but I must realize that in order for things to happen, I must occasionally recluse myself from the rest of life to think, to contemplate, to pray, to meditate, to plan. I am at a great location and the majority of my congregation understands this need for this time, thankfully! This isn't a time like last week, in which I needed time to renew my spirits and refresh my soul, which is also time I need to pull away from day-to-day life and spend some time apart...just me and God. (In the case of last week...and the 65 other people pulling away to spend time with just them and God. This is why silence is important!)
We are given biblical examples in which we need to come away from the rest of the world to pray and to spend time listening to God. Time we need to refresh and renew ourselves, body-mind-spirit. But we tend to like to be busy people. I have given great thought as to why.
When I was younger, I went through a divorce. My husband left me and an infant. I was devastated. I was more devastated by his absence at such a time (with a newborn) than the reason he left (for another woman.) I was lonely. So, I filled my time, and I continued to fill my time. I talked on the phone constantly, and when one friend got tired of talking, I hung up and dialed the next one. I filled all the empty time and quiet places with activity and noise, so I didn't have to think or hear my own heart break.
When I was finally faced with time absolutely alone, no children, no pets, no one else there and it was just me and God in that house that day, I ranted and raved, angry at the God who lived just past the ceiling. If you had walked into my house that day, you would have immediately committed me to the nearest mental institution, because I did not have any semblance of sanity. I was angry, and I hated the emotion of anger, so I stuffed it until it erupted. It erupted someplace safe, when I was alone and directed at God, but many people do not deal with their anger or hurt or sorrow and so when it erupts, it erupts as lashing out at others. This is as harmful as stuffing it down until it hurts us with physical issues, or emotional ones, but we so fear the intensity of the anger within us!
Now, my anger at God eventually gave way to sobbing on God's big, divine shoulder and God cradled me and held me close and kept me safe until I was able to deal with the life I had. I think it is really important to be able to have those times of silence to give way to the tears as well. Tears we would never possibly express to another living soul. Tears that may spring up at all the wrong times, in all the wrong places, to all the wrong people. For me, tears are therapeutic, but only if I feel safe when I am crying.
As I was sitting during one of our many times of silence last week, the revelation that crossed my heart and mind was that noise covers a multitude of sins. We don't hear that still small voice, we don't want to hear that still small voice, so much so we put our fingers in the ears of our heart and say, "lalalalalalala God, I'm not listening!" We keep the busyness and the noise always close, so we do not have to deal with what is lurking in the silence.
But we do not have to deal with this frightening unknown alone. God is with us, and God is safe. I know many reading this may not feel like God is safe. I know I probably would have told you that I didn't feel God was "safe" to express my anger to, like I did, but it turns out that I only found that out by the expression of this anger. I would have probably felt that God was unsafe because I felt let down and disappointed at God. We also tend to blame God rather than ourselves or those we love. Once we have moved past that we are able to see ourselves, and even others for who they are, flawed human beings. But flawed human beings who are loved by God! Not fatally flawed! Just hurting, and broken, and wounded. If we saw ourselves through God's eyes, we would love ourselves so much! All the things that separate us from God would be gone and we would feel like we could sob on God's shoulder.
I have no idea how a post that started out as Advent planning ended up in dealing with pent up hurts and gaping emotional and spiritual wounds, but God must have a purpose for this post today.